Kingston mayor's proposed reorganization of departments would mean larger paychecks for his wife and former secretary

Daily Freeman-11 months before

And the department resulting from the merger of the Department of Public Works and the Parks and Recreation Department would be headed by current DPW Superintendent Ed Norman, who is dating Common Council President Andrea Shaut, Noble's running mate in the 2019 election.

The mayor also has proposed creating two new positions focused on housing and intergovernmental affairs. Each of those positions would have a salary of about $60,000 per year.

Shaut said Monday night that she knew only a little about Noble's plan ahead of time and did not want to comment about it.

...I was surprised to see it as a press release before the council had time to hear the proposal," Shaut said.

Norman said in a prepared statement Monday that he looks “forward to working with my colleagues to effectively manage our limited resources and support our great staff who work hard every day to address our aging infrastructure, preserve our beautiful parks, and maintain the essential services our city residents expect.”

Summer Smith, the city's director of communications and community engagement, said Norman is not, "at this point," to receive a raise from his current salary of $99,053 per year.

"Both of these departments (Public Works and Parks and Recreation) play unique and distinct roles in the day-to-day lives of our community members,” Noble said in a press release. “However, there are a variety of core service areas offered by each department that intersect, and many large-scale projects in the pipeline that will benefit from improved communication and collective planning. We are in the midst of our city’s largest investment in municipal infrastructure and parks in a generation.

The mayor's wife, Julie Noble, who currently is the city's environmental education and sustainability coordinator, is to become deputy superintendent of environmental services and report to Norman, according to mayor's press release.

Julie Noble, who will have to pass a civil service exam, is to be paid $73,185 per year, which is $22,882 more than she makes now.

Julie Noble has worked for the Kingston Parks and Recreation Department since 1999, and she became a full-timer in 2007. Steve Noble, who also was an environmental educator for the city, was elected mayor in November 2015 and was re-elected in November 2019.

Steve Noble's annual salary rose this year from $75,000 to $80,000, and he's seeking additional $5,000-per-year mayoral raises for 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024.

As environmental education and sustainability coordinator, Julie Noble manages the city’s environmental projects, initiatives and programming, including energy, land use, climate adaptation, transportation, recycling and environmental education. 

“I have had the opportunity to work side by side with the dedicated Parks and Recreation staff since I was in high school, and over the past 20 years, I have gained an in-depth and intimate knowledge of our city's expansive parks system and programming," she said in a prepared statement.

Lynsey Timbrouck The mayor's plan also calls for Lynsey Timbrouck, his former confidential secretary and currently a recreation leader for the city, to become city recreation director.

Timbrouck, who became a recreation leader only three months ago, is to be paid $46,180 per year in her new job. That's $5,871 more than she makes now.

As a recreation leader, Timbrouck has been “responsible for organizing, planning and implementing community programs, including the department’s youth basketball programs, and coordinating special events within the city,” the mayor's press release says.

“Growing up in the Parks and Recreation Department, I had strong role models who cared about me and supported me to work hard and achieve my goals,” said Timbrouck, who attended the College of Saint Rose in Albany on a full basketball scholarship. “Managing this department and giving back to the community who raised me has been my dream for as long as I can remember.”

The top position in Parks and Recreation, superintendent, is held by Kevin Gilfeather. He's retiring in April, and with Norman poised to oversee the current functions of both that department and Public Works, a replacement for Gilfeather does not need to be hired.

But Noble does plan to add two positions at City Hall: director of housing initiatives and director of intergovernmental affairs. Smith said each person is to be paid $60,000 per year.

“As outlined in his 2020 State of the City address, Mayor Noble has set forth a clear and ambitious agenda for tackling local housing issues in partnership with the Common Council and community stakeholders,” a press release for Noble's office says. “His housing justice initiatives for 2020 include adopting the Emergency Tenant Protection Act and additional tenant safeguards, supporting anti-displacement efforts through participation in the [state] attorney general’s new Learning Network program, and implementing regulations for short-term rentals.”

“There is no doubt that our entire region is in the midst of a housing crisis, and we are at a pivotal moment here in the city of Kingston,” Noble said. “We must continue to be proactive in our efforts to protect and support our residents who are at risk of or struggling with housing insecurity. It is imperative that we have dedicated staff with the expertise needed to expand the availability of safe, affordable and equitable housing for all.”

The director of intergovernmental affairs would be “responsible for a wide array of projects and initiatives that are outside the boundaries of any one department, and often require collaboration with other agencies," Noble said. “Our community is changing; new needs are emerging, as are new opportunities. I have sought to build a team that has the vision and expertise to move our city forward...."

City lawmakers are to begin reviewing the mayor's various proposals at the February meeting of the Common Council's Finance Committee.

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